Paedophile imam found guilty of abusing two young girls at a mosque absconds to Bangladesh

  • By Sejal Karia, UK Bureau Correspondent

A paedophile imam who was found guilty of abusing two young girls at a mosque has absconded to Bangladesh while on bail, ITV News has learned.

Hafiz Rahman, 57, was convicted on Friday of indecently abusing two victims in the 1980s after they were sent to him for religious tuition at a mosque in Dudley.

The imam was free on conditional bail pending sentencing following the trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

He had attended the initial part of proceedings but failed to appear for the final two days after claiming to be sick once the jury retired to consider its verdicts.

Queens Cross Mosque and Community Centre Credit: ITV News

He was found guilty in his absence on Friday and was visited by police at his home.

But on Saturday he skipped bail by boarding a flight to Bangladesh in a bid to escape justice.

Rahman's absconsion came as officials prepared to summon following his conviction for the horrific offences.

The jury found him guilty of five of seven counts of indecently assaulting the two victims, who were aged between 6 and 10 when he abused them.

The court heard Rahman targeted the girls on an almost daily basis at times between 1984 and 1987, when he was supposed to be leading Koran classes at Dudley's Queens Cross Mosque.

One of the victims, now aged 40, came forward to police in 2012 and officers launched an investigation.

Rahman was arrested in 2014 and denied the offences but was found guilty following a week long trial.

The court ruled he was not a flight risk and released him on bail to return for sentencing at a unspecified later date.

But today police confirmed he had skipped bail and absconded.

He skipped bail by boarding a flight to Bangladesh Credit: ITV News

The statement added: "The court did not issue any warrant for Mr Rahman to be arrested or remanded following the guilty verdict and he was due to be summonsed for sentencing this week.

"Officers visited him at home that evening to ensure he was complying with the previously imposed bail conditions of residing at the specified address, which he was.

"An ‘all ports warning’ information report was placed onto the Police National Computer advising that officers should be notified if he made any attempt to try and leave the country."

One of Rahman's victims today told ITV News of her anguish at the prospect he could now escape justice.

The mosque Credit: ITV News

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: "I'm extremely angry at what has happened, getting that guilty verdict was a victory for me and my nightmare was finally over.

Today's statement from West Midlands Police comes five days after the force issued an initial statement confirming detectives had been pleased to have brought Rahman to justice.

In a statement released on Friday, the force said: "We have a successful track record of bringing historic sex offenders to justice even if the crimes they’ve committed are many years, even decades in the past.

"We’re determined sex offenders won’t escape punishment and we’d encourage any victims to contact us so that we can take action."